Anne of Bohemia,
1st wife of King Richard II
11 May 1366, daughter of Charles IV, King of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperor, and Elzbieta, Duchess of Pommerania, at Prague, Bohemia
20 January 1382, Richard II, at Westminster Abbey, London
22 January 1382, at Westminster Abbey
7 June 1394 at Sheen Palace, Surrey
osmopolitan, cultured, well acquainted with literature and the protocol of the imperial court, and with an ancestry stretching back to the Capet kings of France and intertwined with the ducal house of Luxemburg, Anne had spent her formative years at her father’s palace in Prague. Her brother Wenceslaus was now King of Bohemia.
Why Anne and not a daughter of France or Spain? A dowry – and papal politics. There was a schism in the church, with two popes on two thrones. Urban VI in Rome was backed by Italy and England. Clement VII in Avignon was backed by the French, Scots and Castilians. The hope was that Richard’s marriage to Anne would bring the Emperor and the Low Countries into Urban’s camp, depriving France of allies and making it more amenable to negotiations with England on many matters.
The marriage happened; the dowry was never paid and there were no political gains.
Richard and Anne, however, quickly developed a strong and lasting bond. There was never the slightest hint of disloyalty by either of them during their twelve years of marriage. They traveled together on all of Richard’s major trips and, when separated, wrote to each other. Although Anne made little impression on the public, she seemed to have the respect of the court. On her epitaph, Richard honored her for her skill in settling disputes.
An educated woman, she could read fluently in three languages – German, Latin and Czech. She seemed to have an interest in religion, supporting a stronger role in England for her patron St. Anne and, reportedly, attempting to read the Bible in the English vernacular.
In 1394, still in her twenties, Anne was struck down, possibly by the plague. She died suddenly at Sheen Palace. A grief-stricken Richard ordered the palace razed to the ground.
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